Interview With A Hot Dog T-Shirt Designer

Michael McGloin is the Creative Director of The Mountain, the self-proclaimed "bold player" in the novelty t-shirt game. The New Hampshire-based company was founded in the 1970s as a peddler of Grateful Dead and Bob Marley shirts, and has grown into a global seller of shirts that tackle topics from Thomas Kinkaid patriotism to Abyssinians on acid trips. Food is also big for the company, literally, in a series of all-over shirts that cover all the major food groups: blueberries, bacon, two-ton burgers. But, our favorite is McGloin's interpretation of the hot dog. Not because we love hot dogs — they're OK. No, it's that the designer made the wise artistic design to go mustard-only. This writer has Chicago lineage, meaning there is only one way to eat a hot dog. "I was challenged to make a non-sexual looking hot dog shirt," says the designer in a recent e-mail exchange. "So what better way than to cut off the tip?" Ouch.

OK, why the mustard-only topping?

To appeal to as many people as possible. We would need to release 100 different versions of the hot dog shirts to please everyone, and we don't have the shelf space to accommodate. We have a custom division, if you have a hankering for a chili dog or something more exotic.

What inspired designing a shirt with a hot dog on the front?

It's a classic. We are into classics here. We started out with our Big Face animal shirts a few years ago and wanted to expand the line in a new direction. We decided everyone likes food, so we released it as part of our Big Food collection this summer.

How many have you sold?

More than I can eat in a year (hot dogs that is).

What other food shirts have you designed? Do you have a favorite?

Artistically, I love the Fried Egg and Egg Face. But, the shirt I did that I want to eat is the Sizzlin Bacon shirt. The final product is so realistic, with a bacon lovers' dream of two-foot-long bacon slices, sizzling on the shirt. It makes me want to cook five pounds of bacon and watch 10 hours of Epic Meal Time while consuming it.

Do you eat a bunch of the particular food item for inspiration before you design the shirt?

Not before, but while designing the Big Food Collection my art department was constantly having to run out and get food — whatever we were working on, we had to have. We designed over 75 food shirts and we all gained weight while designing this collection.

Food you would NEVER design a shirt for?

We did a Big Brain shirt for Zombies, so I think most any food is on the table for us. You wear what you eat after all.

Related: 5 Chefs Show Us How To Make A Baseball Hot Dog That Does Not Suck